Republican Dino Rossi and incumbent Democrat Patty Murray are separated by a single point in the U.S. Senate race in Washington with less than a week until Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Rossi picking up 48% of the vote, while Murray draws support from 47%.
Just over a week ago, Murray inched ahead 49% to 46%. But highlighting the closeness of the race, neither candidate has held a lead greater than five points in 15 surveys conducted since January, and they've been within two points of each other nine times. Murray's support has ranged from 45% to 51%, while Rossi has picked up 46% to 49% of the vote.
Washington could end up holding the key to a Republican majority in the US Senate, depending on how other races shake out. Consider this scenario: If Republicans (a) successfully defend all current GOP-held seats, as expected, and (b) pick up seats in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, the Rossi/Murray race could determine whether Republicans win back the Upper Chamber. (The same argument applies to California, Connecticut, and Delaware -- listed in order of likelihood of success).
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that even if Republicans are sitting on nine new seats on November 2nd, it might be awhile before they know if they've claimed the prized 51st seat:
Here's the problem: If the contest is as close as polls suggest, it's entirely possible we won't know who the winner is Tuesday night. That's because in the Evergreen State, voters only to have mailed their ballots by Election Day. In other states the ballots have to be received by Nov. 2. David Ammons, spokesman for the secretary of state, says only about 60 percent of the ballots in Washington will have been counted by Election Night.
Kim Van Ekstrom, spokeswoman for King County Elections, said her shop figures it will have counted up to 45 percent of the votes by Tuesday night. That means more than 350,000 ballots could still be in the mail or not yet tallied come Tuesday. Ultimately Murray and Rossi might not know who won for days. If that happens, get ready for the national spotlight to turn to the northwest corner of the country.
A razor-thin, vitally important election in Washington State? What could go wrong?